Sustainable Food and Nutrition
Standard letter grades
Contact hours total
WR 065 or higher or minimum placement Wr/Comm Level 7.
Farmer and author Wendell Berry once wrote that eating is an "agricultural act". It is also an ethical, social, political, and environmental act. In order to more fully understand the impact of our food choices, this course explores American food production from start to finish, past to present, and field to fork. Along the way we answer questions like: How does a plant grow? What is the difference between conventional vs. organic agriculture? How and why did our current food system develop? How much does a cheeseburger really cost? What and why is food biotechnology? Where can I buy a local head of lettuce or leg of lamb? And, ultimately, what should I eat?
1. Explain the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and economic systems in the context of agriculture and food production systems.
2. Analyze the major environmental, social, and economic challenges and potential solutions of our time using a systems thinking approach.
3. Debate controversial aspects of food production, including small vs. large-scale agriculture, organic vs. conventional farming practices, genetically-modified organisms, farm subsidies, and labeling laws; articulate and rationalize your thoughts using current scientific evidence.
4. Calculate the “true cost” of food, including direct and indirect costs (externalities).
5. Explore and reflect on the feasibility of local food production and gain an appreciation for issues facing Central Oregon farmers and producers.
6. Apply principles of sustainability to the development of personal values and professional goals.
I. Foundations of sustainability: defining and measuring sustainability
II. Foundations of agriculture: overview of soil, fertilizer, plants, and water issues
III. U.S. food system: history, business principles, rationale, and externalities
IV. Government policies: history and components of the U.S. Farm Bill, pros and cons
V. Organic agriculture: history, standards, pros and cons
VI. Food biotechnology: history, labelling laws, pros and cons
VII. Sustainable food systems: foodsheds, food sovereignty, permaculture, and economic benefits
VIII. Central Oregon food system: regional issues, farms, ranches, markets, CSAs, and retail outlets
A textbook is required.
Grades will be determined via homework assessments, midterm exam, final exam, service learning project, and class participation which includes groups discussions and field trips.
General education/Related instruction lists